Ahead of Veterans Day, a flight crew from Scott Air Force Base (SAFB) made history by becoming the first all-Black crew to land a C-21 aircraft at Sharpe Field in Alabama, formerly known as Tuskegee Army Airfield. Captains Kyle Green and Johnny Frye made the trip from SAFB to the civilian airfield to speak with student pilots on the sacrifices of Black military men in American history, FOX2 reported.
The student pilots were from the Red Tail Flight Academy, which was named after the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at the very same airfield over eight decades ago.
“I think it’s important because it’s easy to forget,” Capt. Frye, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, said. “We weren’t living in those times and just to look at the history of what they went through.”
Serving at a time when the American Army was segregated, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American aviators in America. The 332nd Fighter Group and the 99th Pursuit Squadron were the only Black groups that fought in World War II and were considered highly successful despite facing discrimination in and out of the army.
Trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, they flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their remarkable performance did not only earn them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses but eventually helped encourage the integration of the U.S. armed forces, according to History.
Green and Frye have been flying for the military for about six years. During their trip to Alabama’s historic Tuskegee airfield, they also offered personal tours of the C-21 to the students they talked with and visited the historic Tuskegee University, Montgomery Adviser reported. The pilots said they were pleased with their flight.
“Just being able to accomplish something that hasn’t been accomplished before and the historical significance of going to a field where guys that look like us trained,” Capt. Green, who lives in Milwaukee, said, according to FOX2.
“Times are different now but their legacy and the things they had to endure should go down in history and should never leave our minds!”